The Hollywood Western, as a genre, is a realm of fantasy. Once Upon a Time in the West is, in its pseudo-realistic way a fantasy superimposed on that general fantasy. Sergio Leone is the best-known of the European makers of Westerns that we’ve been getting lately, mostly from Italy. I haven’t seen his previous films, but veteran Leonists tell me that this new one is like them, only very much more so.
Manufacturing Job Loss is Not Inevitable
February 23, 2012
Despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in U.S. manufacturing jobs for the last 30 years has been downward, leading some to argue that long-term manufacturing job loss is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise. There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S.
What Explains Newt's Conversion - Or Anyone Else's?
December 22, 2011
As the Iowa caucuses draw near, Newt Gingrich—down, but not quite out—is offering a feel-good religious message to primary voters. This comes amid a new story exploring Newt’s conversion to Catholicism, which, as TNR has explained, is pretty typical for American politicians. What factors might explain the levels of religious conversion in a society? A 2007 paper argues that, among other things, high rates of religious conversion are correlated with high rates of religious diversity.
The Invention of Space
December 14, 2011
Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science By Hans Belting Translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider (Belknap Press, 303 pp., $39.95) In many respects this is a bold book, first of all because of its premise: a veteran art historian dares, after half a century as an active scholar, to take another look at a classic art-historical problem—the formulation of linear perspective in fifteenth-century Florence.
Strategist and Scourge
December 14, 2011
George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.
The Rumors of the Euro’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
December 13, 2011
Another month, another EU Summit. And once again, markets are judging the compromise as, at best, incomplete—at worst, disastrously insufficient. On top of everything else, the new agreement has managed to formally isolate Britain from the other 26 EU member states. (British euroskeptics are applauding their country's newfound estrangement, but more considered commentators realize the situation is fraught.) So is Europe ultimately doomed to all that jazz about euro breakup and financial apocalypse? Not quite.
How the IMF Got Its Keynesian Groove Back
December 02, 2011
In a speech before Parliament last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron posed a rhetorical question as he harangued the opposition Labour Party: “Is there a single other mainstream party anywhere in Europe who thinks the answer to the debt problem is more spending and more borrowing?” Cameron was meaning to taunt Europe’s Social Democratic parties, rubbing in the fact that they lack the power to implement the types of programs they’d prefer.
Attention Numerology Freaks
November 11, 2011
The Armistice was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In less than an hour it will be the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, or 11:11 11/11/11. All the world's computers will shut down and the mountains will be laid low and the seas will arise to cover the earth and Herman Cain will win the Republican nomination for president. Or not. I've never been very good at predicting the future. Update: Missed it!
Obama Support Rising? Gallup Says Yes
November 10, 2011
The election is a year away, the Republican primaries still haven’t started, and any number of highly plausible scenarios could undermine President Obama’s reelection prospects. But the polls are starting to confirm what a lot of us already suspected: Obama’s political support is rising again. The latest survey is from Gallup. After the summer, Obama fell behind in Gallup surveys pitting him against an unnamed, generic Republican opponent.
Italy’s Going Under, But Don’t Blame Berlusconi
November 09, 2011
The eurozone debt crisis simply refuses to go away. Last month’s latest and greatest plan put forward by European leaders has already been judged by financial markets to be insufficient. And while it is political uncertainty in Greece that has thrown the whole process into question, the main victim has actually been Italy; in the days since the rescue package was announced, Italy has found its borrowing costs rising to record levels as investors continue to expect the worst. But why are investors picking on Italy?